Attorney Matt Casey, a founding partner of Ross Feller Casey, won what is reported to be the largest known verdict in Chester County, Pa., history — $19.16 million in a case involving the failure to diagnose and timely treat breast cancer in a young woman.
The case involves Kerri Downes, of Phoenixville, Pa., and a 9-month delay in diagnosing breast cancer.
During the two-week trial, Casey convinced the jury that a nurse practitioner failed to send Downes, then 22, for a proper diagnostic workup after she presented to the office not once but twice in as many weeks in 2018 with complaints of a palpable mass in her right breast. Had that been done, her cancer would have been diagnosed at an earlier point, and she would have had a much better chance of being cured. Instead, due to a 9-month delay caused by medical negligence, her life expectancy has been greatly diminished, Casey, one of the nation’s leading medical malpractice lawyers, successfully argued.
Chester County Court officials confirmed Monday that the verdict was the “largest known” award in a civil case, according to Patch.com, an online news agency. *
To demonstrate that the nine-month delay to Downes’ treatment had an impact on her prognosis, at trial Casey presented data on the speed at which the tumor had grown and spread, according to The Legal Intelligencer.
The paper reported that between her first appointment and her diagnosis, the lump grew from under 2 cm to 4 cm, and the cancer metastasized to three of her lymph nodes.
After the verdict, Casey told Patch that the jury made the right decision and called the verdict “more than reasonable.”
“Kerri Downes was let down by her medical provider,” he added. “At 22 years old, she found her own breast mass, which was the size of a grape, and she was conscientious about it, going twice to her gynecologist's office and showing it, twice, to a nurse practitioner.”
Casey said the nurse practitioner reassured Downes that it was nothing to worry about, did no ultrasound, and sent her home.
Casey told The Daily Local newspaper in a front-page story that “Health care providers need to listen to their patients even when it involves a younger person.”
“The cancer invaded her lymph nodes which reduced her chances of being able to live a longer life,” he said. “She lost a significant amount in terms of life expectancy over the next 10 to 15 years, and that’s what this case is about.”
Defendants in the case include Axia Women’s Health and Main Line OB/GYN Associates.
The jury foreperson had tears in her eyes when she read the verdict in Chester County Judge Edward Griffith’s courtroom on July 22.
The jury returned a verdict of $18 million, but the judge later increased it to $19.16 million because of delayed damages brought by an appeal of the case.
Read the media coverage of the verdict:
The Legal Intelligencer
The Daily Local
Patch.com's coverage of the appeal
* A larger verdict of $20 million was reported in Chester County in 2018. But the judge in that case, citing mistakes made by the jury, reduced that amount to $10 million.
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